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Easy Pico de Gallo or Chimol

Easy Pico de Gallo or Chimol

I am half Mexican-American on my father’s side and half Salvadorian- American on my mother’s side. However, my home was primarily influenced by the Mexican side of my family. (I think it is because my dad’s family was mostly all in Los Angeles and a lot of my mom’s family was still in El Salvador.)

When I first met my darling husband, el Willy, as I affectionately call him, we instantly made a connection as we had a lot in common and a lot to talk about. The reason? He’s Salvadorian- American as well. As things became serious and I finally had the chance to meet his loving family, I was excited to connect with them because we already had two things in common: el Willy and El Salvador.

One of the first times I visited them, my suegra offered me chimol. Surprised, I smiled, blinked, and nodded, indicating that I accepted her offer. Who was I to despreciar a la señora? Then I leaned over to Willy and asked him,“What the hell is chimol?” He chuckled and whispered back, “It’s basically like pico de gallo.” Ironically, here I was, ready to brag about my Salvi cred, and yet I had never even heard that word before. Clearly, I had something new to learn.

When I came home later that day, I interrogated mom about it: “What the heck is this and why have you never told me about it? What other marvelous Salvi secrets are you hiding from me, mujer?” She said she knew about chimol but that, while similar, it is a bit different from pico de gallo After she explained, I could understand why.

My in-laws prepare chimol with diced tomatoes, white onions, and cilantro leaves: delicious, but missing the kick I was so used to. I was used to my chunky salsas with having tomatoes, red onions, minced cilantro, and minced jalapeño or serrano peppers. Sometimes, when feeling extra creative, I add chopped cucumbers for a refreshing crunch too. (Or, if I am really going all out, I add chopped nopales and the pico de gallo turns into a cactus salad. But I digress.) Now when my in-laws and I have get-togethers, there is typically Salvi chimol, Mexican pico de gallo, and a whole lot of other tasty salsas.

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I love pico de gallo so much because it can be the cornerstone of many meals! Put it on top of casamiento and you have a vegan burrito bowl; eat it with a Mexican quesadilla and suddenly you went from having a snack to having a meal. Even if you just eat it with chips, it can feel as satisfying as heaven!

However you like to enjoy it and whatever you decide to call it, this recipe can give you the foundational tips to create your personalized version of chunky tomato salsa every time. Join me!

For more recipes like this one, you can purchase my cookbook.

Pico de Gallo

Recipe by Bernadette MolinaCourse: SidesCuisine: Mexican-SalvadorianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Total time

1

hour 

10

minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 roma tomatoes

  • 1 medium red onion

  • A handful of cilantro

  • 1 or 2 lemons

  • 1 tablespoon of salt

  • 1 small cucumber (or half of a larger one), optional

  • 1 or 2 serrano peppers, optional

Directions

  • Rinse the vegetables.
  • Dice the tomatoes, onion, and cucumber. You want these three ingredients to be roughly the same size.
  • Finely mince the cilantro leaves.
  • Put the chopped ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Squeeze the lemon all over the vegetables and mix everything. You want the ingredients’ flavors to perfectly blend together
  • Sprinkle with salt.
  • Optional: finely chop the pepper while the other vegetables’ flavors blend together. The smaller the pieces, the better! You don’t want big chunks of pepper ruining the flavor; rather, minced pieces will complement this salsa. Take your time to devein the pepper and remove all seeds: this will remove any bitterness.
  • Add the minced pepper to the rest of the salsa and stir to combine flavors.

Señora Advice

  • If you have a food processor, you can cut the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion into fourths and put them into the food processor with the salt and lime. Remove from the food processor and add the minced cilantro and pepper at the end. There is no shame in having the food processor do the chopping for you and ease the process! It’s important to take care of our hands.
  • Enjoy this delicious salsa with chips as a snack, or on top of tacos as a garnish to your meal. This salsa also pairs well with carne asada and agua fresca at a summer BBQ.
Herencia Cookbook: Celebrating and honoring SalviMex culture and matriarchs through food

Your mom didn't share measurements, but I do.

If you’re craving authentic, comforting flavors of home with a modern or healthy twist—like crock pot pozole or air fryer tacos dorados—I’m here to bring you inspiration, clever kitchen hacks, and of course the exact measurements you need to keep our traditions alive.